Brown, Saulibio discuss platforms in Colfax

McMorris Rodgers absent due to session of Congress, opponents differ on policies related to tariffs, abortion

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Two candidates and a candidate’s spokesperson for the Washington’s 5th Congressional District’s House of Representatives seat pled their cases to voters during a forum Tuesday night in Colfax.

Democrat Lisa Brown faced-off against Dave Saulibio of the Trump Populist Party and Ethan Small, who represented incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, as her southern field coordinator.

The forum began with opening statements from each of the three, which represented one of the only times Small could speak on Rodgers behalf, as he wasn’t allowed to answer questions.

“I am sorry to miss the chance to be with you in person, but Congress is in session and voting this week,” Small read from Rodgers prepared opening statement.

The rest of her opening remarks covered her record in Congress, including boosting military salaries and pushing expansions for health care for children. The statement also threw an attack at Brown, stating the Democrat had a “record of raising taxes.”

Brown opened by saying she decided to run to bring about change in a district represented by a multiple-term congresswoman.

“I’m running because we need a change in our nation’s capital,” Brown said. “I am annoyed by a broken government run by a partisan congress.”

She said she wants to focus on defending Medicare and Social Security, lowering drug and medical costs and working for bipartisanship.

Saulibio, whose past experience includes owning a private business and years at Boeing, described his views as being in full support of President Donald Trump.

“I am a Trump Populist Republican,” Saulibio said. “It means I support Donald Trump 100 percent.”

The first question dealt with breaching dams on the Snake River, which has been a topic of discussion for many years. Brown said the real discussion should be about who gets to decide whether to breach them.

“The real question is who makes the decision about the dams,” she said. “I believe that decision needs to be made by the region and the stakeholders, not by Congress.”

Saulibio said he would want a business analysis before making a decision on the dams, but he would not favor removing them unless there was good reason.

Current trade concerns over rising tariffs were also addressed. Saulibio said he supported what Trump is doing, which he stated several times during the questioning period.

“On international trade, the world plays football and we play baseball,” he said. “We don’t hit back.”

Brown said she did not support withdrawing from trade agreements without an alternative in place.

Both candidates supported the continuation of research into agriculture to help further improve practices in the region.

As for taxes, Saulibio said he supports Trump’s cuts and would be open to even further tax breaks, while Brown said Trump’s bill did not address the “erosion of the middle class” and was too focused on cuts for corporations.

Another issue the two differed on was abortion. Saulibio supported a pro-life view due to his Catholic upbringing while Brown, who said she was also raised Catholic, supported a women’s right to choose and funding for family planning services.

The forum ended with a question asking the candidates how they planned on bringing the country together. Brown said the conversation needs to be shifted away from what divides us.

“I think its more important than ever that we reject labels and that we get together and talk about what we have in common more than what divides us,” she said.

Saulibio said special interests would make it hard for people to work together, but suggested the implementation of term limits and the stripping of pensions for those in Congress to “drain the swamp,” a phrase popularized by Trump.

The full field includes five candidates, which will be narrowed down to two after the primary.